“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
– Stephen Covey
So, what’s your main thing?
I write a lot about financial planning, values, goals, priorities, and much more.
But each of you reading this is unique.
You have different perspectives on a life well lived which means what’s important to you could be similar to – or more likely VERY different from – someone else.
Even if you have a personal financial plan AND you’re regularly reviewing, updating, and adjusting it (that’s financial planning, folks), what do you do when faced with life’s little, or not-so-little, surprises?
I have a family member adjusting to life after a house fire destroyed her home. She and her daughter have to find a new place to live while figuring out what can be salvaged from the fire.
I can guess what their “main thing” is right now…
It’s probably just getting through the next 5 minutes.
We’re all dealing with Covid-19 and its impact on our health and our lives.
Regardless of what you’re dealing with personally, or we’re all dealing with collectively, how do you “keep the main thing the main thing”?
May I suggest something my friend Carl refers to as a statement of financial purpose…
Think of it as a mission statement for your money and your life.
The “and your life” part is important.
I believe it’s useless to focus exclusively on your money if it doesn’t support the life you want to live.
Also, consider this a DRAFT statement of financial purpose.
Just like your financial plan, it will be wrong.
But that shouldn’t prevent you from making the effort to work on your statement. And improving it over time.
Also, thinking of it as a DRAFT and knowing it will be wrong means you don’t have to get it perfect the first time.
It should evolve over time.
Here’s my DRAFT statement of financial purpose:
Spending time with family and friends, and having choices and flexibility about how and where we spend our time together.
The above reflects a lot of my perspectives on money as well as my personal viewpoints on how it should be managed.
Your statement should be uniquely yours.
And it shouldn’t conform to what you think your family, friends or society expect of you.
My statement reflects what’s important to me… my family, first and foremost, and my friends.
It also references choice and flexibility which is both important to me and a foundational tenet of how I help my clients with their financial decision making.
No one wants to be painted into a corner, myself included.
What my statement doesn’t get into is details and tactics.
Details and tactics will change.
Your statement should be something that is timeless.
I suggest you start with a DRAFT of no more than 1-2 sentences.
Some good prompts for thinking about your statement of financial purpose:
- Why is money important to you?
- What would you regret not having done more of if today is your last day?
- What would you want someone to say about you at your funeral?
- If you had absolutely no obligations, how would you spend your perfect day?
I invite you to get in touch and share your DRAFT statement of financial purpose. I won’t share it with anyone, and I’ll be happy to share my thoughts back to you as well.
Despite all the craziness in our lives and in the world around us, I believe ongoing financial planning is a worthwhile endeavor. But clearly I’m biased.
However, even if we never have a conversation, I would encourage you to create your very own statement of financial purpose.
I think you’ll find the thought exercise helpful, and it could help you refocus on what’s important the next time you encounter one of life’s surprises.
And if you work with a financial advisor, your statement could be helpful to share with them as well. It could help guide your work together.
Finally, if you’re a client, I’ll be getting in touch with you on this idea as it’s something I want each of you to have in place. I think it will help us both in our ongoing planning work.
Let me know what you think about this idea, and please feel welcome to reply with your statement of financial purpose.